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September 26, 2017

Nawaz’s return leads to positive results


September 26, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears before a court for the second time in nearly six years, telling all and sundry that he wants justice, fair play and fair trial and respects the judiciary.

Last time, he had showed up in the Supreme Court not as an accused but as a petitioner in the Memogate case on January 12, 2012, a move that was slammed by his detractors especially the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

However, before being exiled to Saudi Arabia on December 2000, the then incarcerated ex-premier was repeatedly presented by those holding him in custody before an accountability court set up in the Attock Fort and an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi, which was trying him in the cooked up plane hijacking case.

What raises eyebrows is the day-to-day hearing in the cases against him and his family members while the proceedings on dozens of similar references are going on at a snail’s pace. Nobody is bothered about their disposal even half the speed being observed for the Sharifs. Fair-minded people are naturally alarmed at this unusual alacrity.

Even a bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has also decided to hold daily hearings on the Punjab government’s appeal against the single judge’s decision to release the one-man judicial commission’s report into the June 2014 Model Town Lahore tragedy. So Sharifs await speedy justice everywhere.

Before his recurrent appearances in the accountability court and ATC during Pervez Musharraf’s rule, Nawaz Sharif as prime minister had also attended the contempt proceedings initiated by Supreme Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah in 1997 against him. He used to sit for a long time in the court, which had no love lost for him and was determined to convict him. Then, the storming of the apex court had taken place on November 28, 1997, which created a situation leading to the ouster of the top judge followed by the resignation of his sponsor, President Farooq Leghari.

Nawaz Sharif was obviously in a deep trouble during Musharraf’s dictatorial era when he was produced before the accountability court and ATC. Now when he appears before the accountability court on being summoned by it, the situation is no different than before.

With his decision to be part of the judicial proceedings in an environment that is highly unfavourable for him, he has proved an established principle that politicians do not fear or flee away from courts but face them regardless of the consequences. On the other hand, the former dictators, being rootless among the masses, always run away from judicial forums. Musharraf is an apt example of the present time. Cases against him are stuck as he is not ready to return and face courts. No legal process is under way to bring him back for his production before different courts so that justice is also done to him. But PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari being politician faced courts bravely.

Nawaz Sharif’s politically superb stroke to fly back home even when his wife is seriously ill in London has spawned positive results and will generate more encouraging effect for him as well as the PML-N.

One, it has forced quick shutting of the campaign of his leading adversaries, who were relentlessly mocking him for having “escaped” from Pakistan on the pretext of his spouse’s indisposition to skip judicial proceedings.

In fact, when the abrupt announcement about his return came, this lot was quite bamboozled how to react because what has happened was against what it had been harping on over the past three weeks. They were left with no option but to acclaim the move.

Two, his homecoming has imbued a new spirit and solidarity in the PML-N, which needed him in the run up to the 2018 general elections. It was always subjected to a lethal propaganda that some of its prominent members particularly incumbent federal and provincial lawmakers may ditch it. Forceful disinformation apart, the PML-N has not experienced any defections although Nawaz Sharif was being maligned for over a year since the eruption of the Panama Papers. Indeed, he is the sole binding force in the PML-N, crowd puller and vote attractor.

Three, his prolonged absence from the home scene would have encouraged his foes, who are hell-bent upon fueling cracks in his party, to deepen their efforts to generate chasm in the PML-N. It would have been demoralized had he stayed in London. Even estranged former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan hardly took any time to meet him after his arrival in Pakistan.

Four, Nawaz Sharif has told everyone that he has returned to fight back and was not bothered about the dire consequences that may occur to him. Every democrat has applauded his move to be in Pakistan at a time which is obviously very hard for him.

Five, by appearing before the accountability court he has loudly spoken his mind that he is not averse to facing the judicial process despite his grave reservations about it. He is unexpected to hold his views about the whole affair and is unlikely to tone down.

After his Supreme Court-sanctioned disqualification, Nawaz Sharif said he has learnt a lesson from his exile in 2000. Perhaps he had this moral in mind when he decided to come back to Pakistan and shunned staying in London for a long time.

Six, his return has also infused confidence in Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and his government. On his part, the premier has shown complete trust in Nawaz Sharif. The homecoming decision was taken during their consultations in London.

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